For many Maryville College students, prioritizing mental health is something that does not always come easily. With homework, extracurriculars and maintenance of a social life, trying to find resources to aid in the betterment of your mind can be difficult. For two Maryville College freshmen, the mental health of the student body is at the forefront of their priorities.
Megan Cooper and Lilly Smith, co-producers of a new campus podcast called “Be Well,” started spreading awareness about resources available to MC students to break down barriers regarding mental health issues.
“To me, our podcast is about talking about hard things,” Cooper shared. “I am focused on making it easier to talk about experiences so many of us go through, despite society telling us it’s taboo.”
Released in January 2022, the first episode of “Be Well” was hosted by Maryville College counselor Angie Hensley. She opened the episode by explaining the intention of the future episode, which is to “have informal conversations in a way that helps to reduce [the] stigma associated with reaching out for help.”
Once Cooper and Smith heard about Hensley’s mission, they felt inclined to become a part of the impact they knew the podcast would have on the student body. Hensley wanted the episodes to be student-led, so the freshmen took over for her.
Episodes so far have included a wide array of topics, including a men’s support group, love and sexuality, transgender visibility and the importance of food and body image. “We pick topics based on what we feel our generation needs to hear or talk about—the things we all go through but are too scared to talk about,” Cooper explained.
The latest episode, “Men’s Mental Health,” is a great example of the type of information Cooper and Smith are trying to share. The episode focused on the men’s support group that has been started on Maryville College’s campus. The group was launched by students Luke Nelson, junior, and Rein McCord, sophomore.
When asked about the their views on masculinity and stereotypes of male sexuality, Nelson shared a story about the bisexuality of his best friend, who “was almost pushed to suicide, simply because of the restraints on the masculine figure.” The support group was put in place to provide a space for men to feel heard and comforted in the fact that there are others experiencing the same hardships that they are.
As the episodes continue, the hosts hope to have a variety of guests on the show and encourage anyone who has a topic they want to share to reach out to them. They are interested in interviewing clubs or students that want to share their experiences.
“I want to hear from everyone! Just send me an email with what you want to share and Lilly and I will do the rest,” Cooper said.
For more resources and information on “Be Well,” check out Maryville Counseling (@maryvillecounseling) on Instagram. Episodes will be released every Friday for the rest of the school year, with exceptions for holidays and finals week. To reach out to Lilly or Megan, email [email protected] or [email protected].